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I am a 47 year old Italian guy from Staten Island NY. I have been living with this disease for 15 years going on 16. I was diagnosed in 1996 and from 1996-2000 I was in so much denial I ran the streets as I had before smoking crack and just wanting to get high and higher, because I thought if I was going to die, I was going to die happy and high. So I thought.
After 4 years I saw I was still here and healthy, so to speak. I decided to get help for my addiction and get educated about HIV/AIDS. I am happy and yes even proud to say that I have been clean from the drug of my choice for 6 going on 7 years and have been an HIV/AIDS Outreach Worker, Educator and Test Counselor for the same number of years and still am. I have also been a member of many groups within the government of New York: HIV/AIDS Planning Council, Advisory Group to the Planning Council, HIV/AIDS Advocate, Human and Civil Rights Advocate. I have found my passion and knowingnow that it is not a death sentence, just a change of life, I can go out and spread the word that, "WE CAN LIVE" and live a very happy, productive life.
I have been addicted to crack for 12 years and lost everything: my job, my partner after 8 years, my home but mostly myself. I am back now with alot of thanks to many, but mostly to myself because it was me who willing and chose to get the truth and I did. I will persevere in this fight to educate and fight for the rights of HIV/AIDS people and all people who are treated unjustly........ I have never been more content and happy than now.
It is now 2011, going on 47 and it is going to be 15 years that I am living with this illness. I am in control of it. It has no control over me. Still extremely happy and content with a positive attitude. Still clean from drugs going on 11 years and still in the field of Social Services. I went back to college and earned a degree which landed me job as a Case Manager focusing on HIV/AIDS where I assisted in housing many homeless, educating the uneducated or misinformed, feeding the hungry, counseling and assisting many in getting their lives back from a life of hopelessness.
Education has been in my blood for many years where I started out at 22 years of age with the Board of Education of the City of New York working with the Special Education Community. As the years passed and after my sordid life experience I saw all the injustices and that is when I started my journey towards Human and Civil Rights for ALL, lobbying, educating and counseling. I am here and I am NOT going anywhere. People who know me and the work that I do know they can, at any time, call on me for assistance and so can you!